Summer Learning Challenge

Several years ago, I tried with no success to have my kids do school work over the summer.  I bought some of those grade level workbooks & planned on having my son do a few pages a day plus some reading.  I wasn't the greatest at following through with this plan & gave up a week or so into summer!

Then, I got lucky!  The summer after my son's third grade year, the school put out a summer reading & math challenge.  Although it was voluntary, it was much easier to get my kids to do it, since it was coming from their teachers, & the school was offering prizes for everyone that completed the work. My kids didn't exactly love doing the work, but they did it without much arguing, which is a win in my books!

After a summer of keeping up his math & reading skills, my son returned to fourth grade & no longer needed reading tutoring.  Not only that, but his grades & test scores improved tremendously!  I give all the credit for his educational gains to the summer reading & math challenge.

Since I am now a big proponent for preventing the "summer slide" through reading & math programs, I was disappointed when I found out his school was ending these programs after two summers.  Wanting to continue what we had been doing the last few summers, I decided to create my own "Summer Learning Challenge".

This past school year, my kids had been given math homework through the online program, TenMarks.  Since they were used to doing this, I was excited to see they were offering a FREE summer math program.  Once you sign your child up, the computer creates an assesment for them for the grade level they just completed.  Then, it will create assignments customized for them, based on the results.  Parents can create prizes that appear when they complete a certain amount of assignments (determined by the parent).  I set my kids rewards for every 5 assignments they complete scoring a 70% or higher.  Since my kids only get 2 hours of screen time per week, I made the rewards 30 extra minutes of screen time, plus ice cream after completing about half of the assignments.  (The kids can also unlock math games after completing 6 assignments.)

In addition to the online math program, I am also having the kids read for at least 15 minutes per day.  I have signed them up for free reading programs through the local library, Barnes & Noble, & Half Price Books, which will hopefully earn them a few rewards once they fill out the reading logs.  Then, once a week, I have them write for about 15 minutes.  I have come up with twelve writing prompts that should last the summer:

Week 1- What do you want to do over summer break?  Tell me all your plans!
Week 2- If you could have any pet (even a giraffe) what would it be?  Why would you choose it?
Week 3- Write a letter to your grandparents.
Week 4- If you could wish for anything, what would it be? Why?
Week 5- Write a review of the last book you finished.  How many stars would you rate it? (5 stars = a great book)
Week 6- Write a letter to your aunt.
Week 7- What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?
Week 8- Write a story about finding a buried treasure in our backyard.  Where was it? What was it? Did you tell anyone or keep it a secret?
Week 9- If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why would you choose it? What would you use it for?
Week 10- We watched several movies this summer.  Which one was your favorite? Why? How many stars would you rate it? (5 stars= a great movie)
Week 11- Write a letter to your cousins.
Week 12- What was your favorite part of summer break? Tell me about it.

Once they finish their reading, math, & writing they check it off of their summer learning chart (first picture).  We keep these, along with the writing prompts & mystery envelope on the refrigerator.

What is the mystery envelope, you ask?  It contains the big reward my kids get when they check off their daily math & reading & weekly writing for the entire summer!  They don't know what the reward is, which makes it even more exciting.  Since they don't read this blog, I'll share the contents of the envelope!  It is a hotel stay in Dayton, Ohio, about an hour away from us in Cincinnati.  The plan is to go to to several museums & a working 1800's farm.  I think one of the big differences between my first attempt at summer learning & now is that my kids have something special to work towards!

In addition to the above, I tore out the unused pages from their school math workbooks & handwriting books (for my daughter) & put them in a drawer in the kitchen.  Then, they are given 5 minutes of screen time for each page they complete.  

So, have you attempted a summer learning challenge?  I'd love to hear how it went!


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